Solar thermal energy

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Ray tracer for solar reflectors and absorbers

A ray tracer is useful for optical analysis of 3D reflection and absorption systems. As we could not identify suitable existing software for this purpose, we programmed a ray tracer for our purposes. This has proved to be useful for evaluation of how interception ratios depend on tracking errors, mirror tile sizes, secondary reflectors, Scheffler reflectors, shading etc.

Screen saving of ray tracer program

The basic functionality is:  

  • Configure reflector and absorber elements
    These can be either assemblies of tiled surfaces or smooth surfaces The basic geometrical shapes are included:
    dish, trough, spheres, Scheffler, torus, flat plate and dish
  • Define sun: array of sun rays with specified angles and ray densities
  • Visualize results with points, rays or colors
  • Select elements for rotation or translation
  • Output to results file and to configuration file
  • See an example of the use of the ray tracer for simulation of a light guide (mp4 movie):